Atul Bhalla | Anhedonic Dehiscence: D-53 Defence Colony, New Delhi

30 November 2018 - 3 January 2019

Anhedonic Dehiscence consists of a combination of new and old body of works including archival prints, diasecs and installation. With this set of works, Bhalla is in a search for the elusive historical and social truth that can possibly never be known. For him, truth takes the form of water, a recurring motif in his works, liquid in its totality and form, elusive that can never quite be held or possessed. Water takes the shape of a glass or the sea; in 1919 a glass of water was shared by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, and the question begged was “who stained it first (jutha)? In search of that glass, Bhalla found himself creating the series Objects of Fictitious Togetherness. Historical that bleeds into the present - afflictions and violence occupy Bhalla, and he attempts to conjure history in referential dialogue, re-addressing lost pasts, and re-locates such in the personal, the social, and the cultural. We see a seemingly unmoving videowork of an interior, the only mosque built by a Sikh guru in Sri Hargobindpur, Bhalla’s hometown. But here the cracks, like a wound or dehiscence, dissolve and reappear. They are slow but pending and present, unfocused as one’s vision is. One is unable to grasp. 

An 83-year old man was set on fire outside of a temple; he was Dalit. 

A young girl who spoke out against sexual violence, was beheaded.

Bhalla brings us back to present culminations through his landscapes and still-lifes. They are pleasure-less “anhedonic alienation and dissociation. Perfect landscapes breakaway and slivers of wounds tear open, as the viewer expects (blood) gushing. Anhedonic dehiscence is the social condition.” 

A series of self-portraits challenge the viewer “the artist has never been more present. Bhalla implicates himself in search of this truth and confines the blame or responsibility to his self. 

What does one bring to the table? History, memory, a proclamation?”

Bhalla stakes his slab of meat in the conversation, and meets the viewer’s eyes, demanding introspection. The meat remains as is, where the glass of water is shifted around, never spilled.  

Atul Bhalla has explored the physical, historical, and political significance of water in the urban environment of New Delhi through artworks that incorporate sculpture, painting, installation, video, photography, and performance.